Be positive and encouraging, even if it hurts

Today’s teaching tip will apply to teachers of any age group. As you lead your group members in Bible study, be sure to always remain positive and encouraging. There are enough negative influences in our lives today, and a Bible study isn’t a place for condescending attitudes, snarky remarks, or rolls of the eyes! As the group’s leader, set the pace and always look for the positive in the things your group members say and do. Here are a few phrases you can use to keep things positive:

  • “You’ve asked a great question that I haven’t thought about until now.”
  • “What a unique way of looking at this Bible story! Thank you for helping us to see it from your perspective.”
  • “That’s a great insight.”
  • “That’s a super sharp observation – I can’t believe I didn’t see that!”
  • “Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the group. You’ve given us something new and exciting to think about.”
  • “Thanks for sharing.”
  • “I really like what you just said.”
  • “That’s a great way to look at this Bible text.”
  • “I wish I’d thought of that.”
  • “I think you’d make a great group leader!”

And the list goes on! No matter who speaks up in the group, always find something you can affirm in the words they spoke. Be an encourager, not someone who inadvertently discourages group members from sharing their thoughts.

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10 Ways Pastors Can Support Sunday School and Small Groups

Sunday School, Community Groups, LIFE Groups, small-groups – and the list goes on!  It’s your church’s name for the Bible study strategy you have. It is your church’s expression of obedience to The Great Commission.  Whatever it’s called, it can grow if it is supported by your pastor.  Providing support to the church’s Sunday School or small-group strategy is vital, so here are 10 ways the pastor can support the Bible teaching ministry of your church:

  1. Encourage people to attendsay it from the pulpit.  Let your people know it is important to you, the pastor, for them to be in a group Bible study. What is important to you will become important to the church family. And people, once they’ve become regular attenders in worship, need to know what step to take next. Tell them!
  2. Pay a visit.  Your presence affirms the group leader and his or her group members. It communicates that you are interested in what they’re doing.  Swing by and say hi to a group or two each week.  These are short visits that won’t take a lot of your time, but they create a lot of emotional goodwill between you and the people. If you have the time, sit in on a full Bible study session.
  3. Attend fellowship events sponsored by Bible study groups.  Yes, you’re busy, but occasionally spending an evening with a Bible study group when they have a party is a great way to get to know the members and guests in ways you can’t on Sunday morning.
  4. Preach a series of messages on the importance of Bible study, relationships, and the Sunday School or small-group ministry of your church.  Don’t assume that people in the congregation “get it.”  You’ll want to help them understand the biblical basis for having a small-group Bible study strategy, how it benefits them, and why building relationships with others is so important to their spiritual growth and development.
  5. Interview people during a sermon about how being involved in a Bible study group has made a positive impact on them or their family.  The power of a personal testimony should not be underestimated.  The people you recruit will be able to communicate and reach people you might not be able to reach – because they are one of them!  People expect you to say that Sunday School is important; they know you believe in your small groups…but when a lay person talks about the impact your Bible study ministry has made on them, it can unlock the heart of someone in the congregation and create a desire in them to get involved in a group, too.
  6. Speak at your church’s annual group leader training event, lead a workshop, or just have  a visible presence.  Clear your calendar and set aside this time. Participating says that the Bible-teaching ministry of your church is important, and so are its leaders.  Your absence communicates just the opposite, so “save the date.”
  7. Lead the staff and Finance Committee to budget for the needs of the Bible teaching ministry.  Your group leaders need you to budget for curriculum, training, equipment, supplies, and other things that increase their effectiveness in ministry.  Too many churches have reduced these line items from their budgets and the Bible teaching ministry is on a “starvation diet,” just barely getting by from year-to-year.  Wonder why your groups aren’t growing?  If you starve anything long enough, it will die. How can I tell if your Bible study ministry is really important to you? Just follow the money trail.
  8. Lead the church to remodel current education space or to build new education space.  Nothing shows support like new or remodeled education space.  If your Bible study ministry takes place primarily on your church campus, consider how you might expand it to reach more people through a building or remodeling campaign. Many churches are in need of updating their facilities, and money spent on this is always a good investment in the future.
  9. Schedule an annual commissioning service for group leaders. Make a big deal about those individuals who lead groups. Leading a group is hard work, and leading a group is not for everyone.  Celebrate and support those men and women who tirelessly serve others by teaching God’s Word through an annual commissioning service.  Call attention to them and the importance of studying God’s Word in groups.
  10.  Send three thank-you notes a week to group leaders.  Remember, “Praise is like oxygen to a volunteer’s soul.”  Too many group leaders live in oxygen-deprived environments and are on life support, never hearing a “thank you” from their church leaders.  Praising people provides encouragement and puts a spring in their step.

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